Tzef Montana is the non-binary activist gender-fluid model serving fierce looks and breaking the boundaries. Born and bread in Greece, Tzef decided to move to LA to pursue her dream and pursue a fabulous career in the model and entertainment industry as a non-conformist non-binary model, setting up an example for all those who want to follow their dreams and fight for their rights. Tzef is enjoying his career as an internationally renowned activist, performer and model and has SOPHIE on her side, the famous gender-fluid singer, musician and performer.
YASS Magazine met Tzef while she was on holidays with SOPHIE and revealed everything!
What does Tzef Montana stand for?
My name is Tzef, just like tzatziki. And as for my surname, Montana is an inspiration I got from Hanna Montana, the famous show of Miley Cyrus. What it stands for? Nothing really.
When did you first realise you are gender non-binary?
I don’t remember the first time of realisation. Since I remember myself I would say, since always.
How important is activism for you?
I’m not the kind of activist who fights for justice and is taken to court. What I do in the entertainment industry can be seen as a form of activism. I try to be intact as much as possible. I have messages and stories that I want to communicate to the world through myself, my skills, my entertainment and through what I have to offer.
How did you take the decision to leave Greece and pursue your career abroad? How has your life changed since that time?
I just followed my instinct and my heart, my ambition and my dreams. I booked a flight and I departed. My life has never been static because I hate a “daily routine” type of lifestyle. My life constantly changes and never stays the same and I hope it stays like that for life. I am at a very good point of life right now. I am relaxed after having been a month in Europe with my girlfriend SOPHIE, the most important trans figure of our time, and this is our last summer day together. SOPHIE is a brilliant producer and artist with whom I am excited to start working with in September. This is the point where I am right now.
Why did you decide to go to the US?
Because of Hollywood! First of all, because of the weather. I am chasing the sun! When you are young and you have dreams and fantasies that you want to pursue and fulfil, there are not many places you can go. You have the big metropolies of the world, like London or Paris or New York, and wherever there is a sofa house. LA was the only available thing for me, if not Rio de Janeiro because I like the life and the good weather there and the quality of living there is pretty high. But, I decided to go there because of Hollywood, of course, and the spotlight. We gotta be near the spotlight.
Did you face any struggles as a kid?
I am happy to talk to a Greek person! I was born and raised in Greece like you, so you can understand how the situation is. The issues someone faces in Greece are not the same as the ones a queer person faces in England or in the US or Abu Dhabi. I think that I did face bullying very early in my life, at a point when I did not really confront it. It was always like a subconscious form of rejection or judgement that I had to fight and defend myself strongly. Quite early I realised that I had to define myself and not let anybody else define me. This is what made confident and strong enough to stand tall every time and know how to earn respect from others, no matter their views, values and opinions. I have my own values, even if a very religious society can says that I don’t or that my values are shit. I know what my values are and I hold them really tight.
Do you feel that people in Greece have more taboos and reservations?
In theory, yes. Sometimes I feel that when I am involved in conversations and when I talk to people whose opinions are diametrically opposite. But, I don’t have to agree with anyone. We can agree to disagree and I don’t let things like that separate us or divide us. Everyone has a different view as me and we no one stands in the same way. However, I feel flattered walking in the streets of Athens. I have only received positive positive feedback and I am gaining attention. Who doesn’t like attention?
How would you define yourself?
I define myself as the sun. I am like the planet, very shiny and no one can hide from me. My values come from looking everyone straight into the eyes.
Are there any brands do you represent?
SOPHIE is a brand that I religiously represent. And myself.
Is the non-binary community well represented in the LGBTQ+ society and in prides?
I see everyone as one community and this one community is not being represented by the general community as much as it should be and that is my main focus.
Is it more difficult for a non-binary and queer model to book as many jobs as binary models?
I have never been a traditional model, running on catwalks and doing catalogue suits. I wouldn’t know what the reality is in the modelling agencies, as I am in control of my own path and find myself having to create those paths and these opportunities. I don’t have much competition and I find room to do my thing. My competition isn’t binary people.
I see a bright future and a light for us. I have found my niche, but if you are selling just for your niche, then what’s the point? You always want to broaden your audience. I know what my goal is and what my strengths and my practices as an athlete are and I try to improve myself for my personal record. The more competition there is the better for me. This is why I picked LA where things are a bit more challenging, as opposed to Athens.
How difficult is it to be politically correct these days? Do you get upset when people do not address to you using the proper terms?
Yes, I do. Being politically correct is pretty easy. Here is the protocol specifying what it is politically correct and comes with a specific textbook, so all you have to do is follow it it. Not difficult all. The difficult thing is to be correct and true to yourself.
How is living in the US in the Trump-era?
I’ve lived in the US in the Obama era and in the Trump era and I feel that people talk a lot about politics now, but I can’t talk about it. I don’t know what’s up. I see kids fighting with each other, kind of like in the American TV shows. This is a bit stereotypical but can show how people categorise themselves. It is sad to see that any sort of solidarity is being vanished like this.
Who are your role models and inspirations?
Anything that speaks to me. I get inspired by female role models only. I like the Mediterranean pop stars we have in Greece. Speaking of which, we recently worked with Tamta and Eleni Foureira.
Would you ever expect that you would become so famous and successful and at the same time a role model for so many people?
Of course, yes. When I was young I was doing all of it in a smaller scale. At first in the kinder garden, then in the neighbourhood, etc. I started receiving feedback and realising who I am and what my strengths are! And now you can see these strengths on Instagram and in publications! The only thing that is different now is that everything is public, but it does not feel any different way. Once a celebrity always a celebrity!
What has been your best moment so far?
I will say this current stage of life. This summer and the past months with SOPHIE have been very inspiring. Travelling and sharing my life with SOPHIE and thinking of the things we can achieve for the future for all of us feels the most exciting thing.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become like you?
Just do it.
What are your future plans?
I want to stay strong and healthy so that I keep doing what I do. And take it from where I left it. I’ve showed what I am interested in and what my intentions are, so any opportunity that comes along it is welcome. I think there is great potential in growth. I fee like I just started.
What are you most grateful for?
I hate being grateful. I just can’t do it. Who like to be grateful now? No, fuck that. Let’s be ungrateful.
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